Cracks in Kibaki's Campaign Team

Following last week's open declaration by president Mwai Kibaki that he will defend his seat in this year's general elections come rain or shine, a fierce do or die battle appears to have exploded around the president with two camps emerging each driven by the sole objective of catching the big man's ear and eye.

According to knowledgeable sources in the inner sanctums of the president's circle of friends and political cohorts, the friction now threatening to burst into an uncontrollable inferno has its source in some key Narc-K functionaries' desire to not only control the president's campaign machinery, but also the line-up.

One camp revolves around a powerful Narc-K activist who has teamed up with influential permanent secretary in charge of strategic planning Stanley Murage.

Another camp rotates around Kibaki's friends in the Democratic Party who include defence minister Njenga Karume, Constitutional and Justice minister Martha Karua, Finance minister Amos Kimunya and Trade minister Mukhisa Kituyi who is the rotating chairman of Narc-K.

The latter group, we have learnt, want to pick Kituyi as Kibaki's running mate and consequently vice president if they win the next elections. As usual, the president who is famous for sitting on the fence is yet to show which side of the battling camps he will finally gravitate toward.

Perhaps spurred on by the president's silence that each group sees as a vote of approval, the two camps are now using the president's name to up their stakes much to the unbearable teeth-gnashing on either side.

And while all this goes, and as much as it might eventually impact negatively on the two groups' mutual goal of seeing Kibaki retain his seat, no one seems able to muster enough Dutch courage to face the president and tell him to either bring together the two groups or declare which among the two will finally win his heart.

Already, observers are drawing parallels between what is going on in Narc-K to the tug-of-war being witnessed in ODM-K between Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka. In fact, political pundits point out that had ODm been pulling in one direction, it would have had an easy time thrashing Kibaki in polls as then they would have capitalized on the open warfare now going on in Narc-K to their advantage.

Not surprisingly therefore, ODM-K as much as it is disjointed has the audacity of taking Kibaki head-on and making what would have been an otherwise smooth ride back to power by the elderly president a rather bumpy affair as his defenders as much as their determination and commitment is total, now risk spoiling the broth not because of the many hands, but because they fear credit for their efforts might go to their opponents.

Only last week, a quiet but potentially crippling game of intrigue was going on at the front most line of Kibaki's war machine as the two groups wrestled the steering wheel of the Kibaki campaign vehicle. First to make a move was the group associated with Narc-K activist and comprising of parliamentary aspirants.

While some cabinet ministers were traversing Trans-Nzoia and Bungoma districts selling their party to the people, back in Nairobi things were running out of hand for the infant party. The group of aspiring parliamentary contestants led by Kimani Ngunjiri and Prof Njoroge Karanja both of whom intend to run for Subukia and Molo parliamentary seats respectively wrote a letter to the Narc secretariat informing them of their intention to hold a meeting at the Grand Regency Hotel in Nairobi. They went ahead and informed the public through advertisement in the media.

When the letter rerached the secretariat, the lady in charge who goes by the name Lucy and whose designation is Executive Director of Narc-K secretariat promptly informed Kituyi who vowed that this meeting would not take place. An incensed Kituyi directed the secretariat to put an advert in the daily papers denying knowledge of the intended meeting by operatives allied to Ngunjiri.

Lucy whose offices located at Vision Plaza along Mombasa road went a step further and reported the matter to the DCIO Kilimani police station that the Ngunjiri group should be locked in for defying party rules. Ngunjiri and Prof Karanja were summoned to appear at the police station but they ignored the police orders. That the two by all means and definitions are political non entities at least when it comes to national politics is now sending cold shivers down the spines of the Kituyi group who now wonder how such minnows can have the guts of punching above their weight if there is not more than meets the eye.

Not to be outdone though, Kituyi took the war to a deeper trench and wrote a stern letter to top editors in nation and Standard newspapers informing them that any advert or indeed any Narc-K communication that emanates from anywhere other than his office is a sham and should not see the light of day in the papers. matters on the position of the party, he said are his preserve.

Documents in our possession however indicate that over 300 people had already booked to attend the meeting at Grand Regency Hotel by remitting Sh.2,000 each to cater for booking of the hall and snacks. it is not clear whether the Kituyi group is doing anything towards torpedoing the grand Regency meeting and political watchers are keenly following matters to see who will be attending the meeting that promises to usher in a mouth-watering episode of the unfolding drama.

Another issue that is causing tension in the party is its constitution unveiled last week which states that any individual who intends to run on the Narc Kenya ticket should not hold any position at the grass root level. This, Ngunjiri's group argue is meant to leave a lot of influence on party matters in the hands of MPs. They argue that this will lead to rigging where the MP will choose who becomes a member of the party at grassroots level something similar to what is happening with the CDF membership committees.

They gave an example of Central province where Patrick Muiruri is the coordinator of the party in his constituency and also the coordinator at the provincial level. This, they said, has led to the locking out of leadership positions on party matters of the MP.

Another example they gave is that of Rongai constituency where the MP Alicen Chelaite is the coordinator of Rongai constituency and also the coordinator of Central Rift and area that comprises 17 constituencies. In that area, what Alicen decides goes, they claimed adding that aspirants in Narc-K had no chance of unseating such an MP. The same applies in North Rift where Kipruto Kirwa is the coordinator.

They also said told Kibaki that most of the MPs hovering around him will be trounced by their opponents and cited Steadman poll which indicated that 75 per cent of MPs allied to Narc Kenya will never make it back to parliament.

But even as the two groups go for each others' jugular, other camps are said to be taking shape with the president's daughter Judy at the head of one while her uncle, Alex Mureithi is heading the other one. These two groups, analysts, say, might at the end of the day emerge as the alternative camp once the two finish each other.

Kimani Ngunjiri is not facing any major opposition in Narc Kenya (Subukia) as his rival for parliamentary seat Koigi Wa Wamwere will vie on his party Chama Cha Wananchi (CCM). The Subukia contest is likely to be quite bruising indeed as Ngunjiri take on Koigi with his feet firmly on the ground.

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